The suspected gunman who shot and killed a sailor aboard the destroyer Mahan on Monday was not authorized to be on Naval Station Norfolk, Va., the Naval Criminal Investigative Service said in a Thursday news release.
Jeffery Tyrone Savage, 35, an ex-convict who’d served time for voluntary manslaughter and other offenses, had “no reason or authorization” to be on the base late Monday night, when he shot and killed Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Mark Mayo with a gun he’d wrestled from another sailor, according to NCIS investigators.
Mayo, 24, was serving as chief of the guard for the destroyer, and dove in front of the petty officer of the watch after Savage took her weapon. Savage gunned down Mayo before being shot by the ship’s roving sentry.
Savage, an employee of North Carolina-based Majette Trucking, drove his 2002 Freightliner onto base showing a valid Transportation Worker Identification Credential, NCIS said. But the TWIC alone shouldn’t have been sufficient to grant him access to the base.
“The NCIS investigation has confirmed that Savage had no reason or authorization to be on Naval Station Norfolk,” the NCIS press release said. “The chain of events that allowed Savage entry to the installation and the ship are under investigation.”
Savage was confronted by at least three levels of security before gaining access to the Mahan, including the front gate guards, the pier sentry on Pier 1 and the Mahan quarterdeck watch, which also has armed watchstanders.
Savage had a history of run-ins with the law and jail time, court and arrest records show.
In 2008, he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to a minimum of 46 months in a prison, court records show.
Savage was arrested in Portsmouth, Va., at the age of 26 on a charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Police then discovered Savage was wanted in Charlotte, N.C., in connection with the slaying of a man who had been dumped beside an interstate entrance ramp, according to an article in the Charlotte Observer.
He was released Dec. 30, 2009, after being given credit for time already served, according to North Carolina’s Department of Public Safety.
Previously, Savage served five years at the Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Md., on a felony conviction for selling crack cocaine.
In addition to the time served for manslaughter and the drug conviction, Savage was arrested in Norfolk in 2005 for drunk and disorderly conduct, drunk in public and obstruction of justice.
The Mahan’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Zoah Scheneman, said at a news conference Thursday that he was thankful for Mayo and credited him with safeguarding the Mahan and his shipmates. Scheneman added that sailors “drill constantly” to prepare to confront threats such as the one posed by Savage.